The 1990 documentary “Paris Is Burning” chronicles Harlem’s disenfranchised black, Latino, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities who come together to “battle” on runways. It also changed the lives of some of today’s most innovative musicians.
NPR’s Julianne Escobedo says the balls featured in “Paris is Burning” were a “safe space for disenfranchised, often poor, gay and transgendered Blacks and Latinos in a time when it could be deadly just to walk down the street as such, the vogue ball of the late ’80s and ’90s was a site of transformative glamour, beauty, and empowerment – a tradition that continues to this day.”
While the film didn’t quite hit mainstream success it did rack up film prizes everywhere it played including the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Best Documentary awards from the Los Angeles, New York, and National Film Critics’ Circles. It also was named as one of the 1991’s best films by the LA Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Time Magazine and the list goes on.